Tennis Industry magazine


Retailing 124: In Today’s Retail World, You Need to Be Consumer-Focused

When it comes to your tennis retail business, is it about the “product,” or is it about the “experience”?

Tennis products are important … right? Sure they are, and there is no question that a racquet well selected, with the right grip and strung properly, is an important part of any tennis player’s game. But the process of selecting and purchasing the right racquet as part of a tennis lifestyle shopping “experience” with your store brand, that is, as the commercial says, “Priceless!”

What we are talking about here is the simple and cost-effective change in your specialty tennis retail store operations from being product-focused to being customer-focused to deliver an extraordinary retail shopping experience every time.

Confused about the difference between being product-focused and customer-focused? When a shopper enters your store and you engage them, you start by asking, “How can I help you?” When they respond that they are looking for a new tennis racquet, do you point to your display then start to tell them everything you know about the products you stock, or what racquets are on sale? Or, do you take a more customer-focused approach and ask a series of follow-up questions to find out what they want from a new racquet, and what improvement they expect a new frame to make in their game?

Being product-focused got you by in the past — but it doesn’t work today. In today’s consumer-driven marketplace, where shoppers have instant access to all the knowledge they will ever want or need about the name-brand products you stock, being product-focused invites price comparisons, requests to price match and show-rooming. If you are having problems with any of these, or similar issues, they are the symptoms of being product-focused and you can diminish their impact on your specialty tennis retail store, or eliminate them completely, by making the change to being a customer-focused retailer.

It’s All About … Them!

So … you think you are already a consumer-focused specialty retailer delivering satisfactory customer shopping experiences? According to Daryl Travis, author of How Does It Make You Feel?: “Surveys reveal 80 percent of companies believe they deliver superior customer experience, yet only 8 percent of their customers agree.”

Being customer-focused isn’t about you at all … it is all about them. It’s all about each and every shopper that enters your specialty retail store and each and every customer that honors you with their business.

If you are the only full-time employee, your path to changing to a consumer focus is a state of mind. You just need the discipline to apply what you learn, at no real cost, about:

Educating Your Staff

If you employ staff you will have to translate your customer-focus state of mind to both educating and consistently managing for satisfying shopping experiences every time. There is a nominal cost, primarily in regular staff education if you are not already conducting regular education sessions, and for online customer-service assessments.

One of the reasons 80 percent of companies believe they deliver superior customer experience, yet only 8 percent of their customers agree, is because the companies are putting employees who are not hardwired to serve in front of the public, causing a huge amount of stress on the employees — and both lost sales and dissatisfied shoppers for the companies. The solution is a relatively low-cost online customer-service assessment that lets you know if the employee is a customer-service natural who is already educated, or can be educated — or if he or she should not be attempting to serve your store’s shoppers and customers.

There is also a technical aspect to making the change to being consumer-focused, and that is being able to measure your success by the sales gain generated from individual customers. This can be accomplished through point-of-sale systems that are now affordable for all sizes of specialty tennis retailers.

Being product-focused isn’t working for specialty retailers today because it invites price comparisons, price matching and show-rooming right through the front door. Rather than just complain and struggle, become consumer-focused. It’s a solution that will help you deliver consistently satisfying shopping experiences and grow your specialty tennis retail business.

For upcoming TIA retail webinars, and to view previous webinars, visit

This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (



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